By Taylor Eldridge
After looking at the games that we covered, I think it was safe to say that this was the game of the night. Although North’s record (2-4) doesn’t show it, this was a game between two of the best teams in the City League, no doubt about it.
To quickly recap, North held a 6-point advantage with 3:24 left in the game. East quickly tied it up and a Jalen Carter lay-up put the Aces up 57-55. After a North free throw and a missed one by East, Chekiel Wright missed a 15-foot leaner as time expired for the win.
In this edition, I will discuss how good East really is, how close North is to being on that level and my thoughts on the game. Click the jump to read more.
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Quick recap of game:
First quarter: North ends the quarter outscoring East 15-5, including an incredible alley-oop from Chekiel Wright to Brison White. Talk about going up and getting it. Wow. North led 19-9.
Second quarter: Pretty much a flip-flop for East this quarter. The Aces start the quarter on a 10-2 run and eventually took the lead 25-23 with 2:54 remaining. Ja’ln Williams was the catalyst in the run, making three three-pointers and scoring 11 second quarter points. There were six lead changes and three ties.
Third quarter: Four lead changes started the quarter, with East piecing together a 7-0 for its largest lead of the game, 37-31, with 3:49 left. North slowly chipped away and got it down to 41-40 going into the fourth quarter. Briston White had 21 points to this point and Williams had 17 points.
Fourth quarter: North starts the quarter on a 11-0 run, queued by Chekiel Wright, to take the game’s biggest lead at 51-44 at 5:15 left. Briston White’s aggressiveness was tempered by his fourth foul with 6:52 left. He played the final six minutes of the game without fouling out, though. After East’s Ron Allen called a timeout, the Aces grinded out a 11-2 run to take a 55-53 lead on a crucial offensive rebound and and-one from Nathan Jackson. Wright made two free throws to tie it up, then Williams penetrated and created an easy lay-up for Jalen Carter for a 57-55 lead with 1:12 remaining. North wasted time, until Briston White was fouled with 11 seconds left. He missed the first, made the second. East’s Jalen Love was fouled and missed the front end of the 1-and-1. The rebound was a jump ball, which went North’s way. North inbounded to Wright, who drove the length of the court in six seconds and got off a leaning 15-footer that bounced too hard off the rim. East escapes with a one-point win.So how good is East, really?Obviously, it’s hard to say at this point in the season. The Aces are now 4-1 and are still ranked No. 3 in the state. As coach Ron Allen said after the game, the halfcourt defense of East is second to none. The offense will come.
Ja’ln Williams can create off the dribble and is a good tone-setter for the defense. I didn’t see Jalen Love’s best game, but he did do an outstanding job shutting Conner Frankamp down to the tune of 1-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Randall Rogers, Jalen Carter, Teance Walton and Nathan Jackson are solid forces inside for East. Dario Duque is a solid bench player, as well. East has a nice team this year.
Now how good are they really? Right now, they are just as tough as anyone else in the City League. The talent is there. Maybe not the big-time talent they’ve had in the past, but they are going to win as a team this season. Like Allen said, East will be a factor in the 6A tournament when the time comes. With nice victories over North and Southeast, East has established itself as a top-2 team in the City League. Are they better than Heights? That’s hard to say right now, but I’d put them right there with the Falcons.Now how close is North to being on East’s level?All you have to do is look at the final score to see just how close North is to being an elite City League team. They’ve been playing with the same players for all of last year and this year now, and they have gotten close so many times but have never one a game over an elite opponent.
With a 6-point lead with 3 minutes left, I thought North might finally pull one out. Even with a strict 6-man rotation, which features 5 seniors, North struggles to stay consistent with its offense down the stretch in tight games. They stopped being the aggressor and watched as East took over the game late. The Redskins’ athletic ability is well-documented, but I agree with coach Gary Squires’ statement after the game that they took a step forward in rebounding. East had the definite height advantage, but lost the rebounding battle 38-34. But the Redskins gave up some crucial offensive rebounds and 20 for the game.
North has long been the most exciting team to watch in the City League, but that hasn’t led to many big victories for North. They are a team that is so tempting to pick to finally break through, but as I stated in my story, it seems like there is an invisible barrier over them in taking that next step. Until they prove it on the court, the Redskins will remain a tantalizing, yet unreliable pick.
North has a good opportunity to rebound with home games against South and Southeast the next two games. A rematch at East is next Friday, which will be the next opportunity for the ‘Skins to pick up that breakthrough victory.
Finally, here’s the box score from the game.
EAST BLUE ACESFG3PTFTPTSOFFDEFREBASTSTLTO
(12) Ja’ln Williams*8-204-82-222123211
(03) Jalen Love*3-90-30-16112220
(21) Randall Rogers*0-40-11-21415112
(33) Jalen Carter*6-100-01-113033201
(23) Teance Walton*1-120-02-448412174
(22) Nathan Jackson1-50-03-45404011
(14) Dario Duque1-11-10-03033003
(40) Justin Johnson-Reed0-00-00-00000001
(42) Chaquil Reed0-10-00-00000001
(32) Shamari Griffin1-11-10-03000000
Total FG%1st H10-3231%2nd H11-3136%Game21-6333%
3PT FG%1st H4-850%2nd H2-633%Game6-1443%
FT%1st H4-667%2nd H5-863%Game9-1464%
(25) Chekiel Wright*4-100-24-412314424
(23) Conner Frankamp*4-91-50-09011003
(11) Matthew Tolliver*0-40-00-00246001
(10) Briston White*10-150-02-5227714237
(12) Brison White*4-90-00-081910223
(32) Spencer Robertson1-30-13-35101002
Total FG%1st H13-2748%2nd H10-2344%Game23-5046%
3PT FG%1st H1-520%2nd H0-30%Game1-813%
FT%1st H0-00%2nd H9-1275%Game9-1275%